Wednesday, May 30, 2012


My opposition to Mr Trifkovic does not stem from his "Serbian-ness", rather, my opposition to him is more ideological, resting on a difference in opinion in his conception of "Conservativeness" and mine. At stake here is not an issue of Croatia vs Serbia, rather my version of Conservatism and his, and our opposition reflects what I consider a major problem in conservatism; who is in or out of the fold?

It is my opinion that Conservatism primarily is a philosophy that orientates itself around the "truth of things." The conservative therefore lives his life according to the truth, by the truth and for truth. As the Master said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set ye free", and the commandment, "Do not bear false witness", attest to the importance of truth in Christian thought. Our criticism of our liberal opponents ultimately boils down to their ignorance or denial of some aspect of the truth.

If we use "the primacy of the truth" as the definition of Conservatism, we approach the liberal-Conservative divide from a totally different perspective. Instead of seeing the Left as permissive and the Right as strict,  we can recategorise the Left-Right divide as being being a divide between those that are right and those that are wrong. It also lets us recognise that there can be both authoritarian and liberal wrongness. Stalin, Hitler and Noam Choamsky thus are easy to catergorise as being anti-conservative even though they sit poles apart on the authoritarian spectrum. The premises from which their respective philosophies arise are wrong with regard to the reality of the human condition.

Intelligent modern Christian Conservatism takes the tenets of Christianity as being true as well as the direct observations of the senses. Therefore Christian Conservatism has to exclude those people who deny Christianity in practice and those who misrepresent the nature of reality. Walter Duranty is outside the Christian fold as he deliberately misstated reality. So has Srdja Trifkovic. Not only with regard to his statements with regards to the nature of events during the Bosnian War, but also with regard to regime he allied himself with during it.

People have accused me of being either willfully or unwittingly biased against Mr Trifkovic because of his background. Personally, I find that offensive, not only because it makes gratuitous assumptions with regard to the nature of my character, but because it implies that no man can actually know the truth, all he can know is his version of it. Of course, this is straight out of the post-modernist philosophical playbook and is ultimately a denial of any sort of objective reality. In practice however, most people don't believe that.  Most people would hold that an intelligent English, American or Frenchman could discuss the dispassionately the events in Nazi Germany without prejudice. However when it comes to the events that have happened in Eastern Europe, particularly concerning the former Yugoslavia, there is an impression that people there just can't do the same. It a subtle form of condescension.

Still, some people have tried to look at the events dispassionately, even people from the region of the former Yugoslavia, in order to determine what actually did happen. Charles Ingrao, a American Historian from Purdue University,  set up the Scholars Initiative in order to determine what actually happened during the break up of Yugoslavia.  He describes how the study was organised and how it began with the approval of the Serbian Academy of Sciences. Over two hundred historians from different nationalities opted to join. The historians were then divided into eleven teams with the purpose of answering certain questions with regard to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Given the overriding need to establish the project’s credibility throughout the former Yugoslavia, each of the eleven research teams was jointly headed by a Serb and non-Serb scholar who worked together in establishing and executing a common research agenda. As a rule, practical considerations (such as language, health, or personal preference) mandated an asymmetrical division of responsibilities, with one team leader emerging as the “principal investigator”. The two leaders’ chief responsibilities were to direct their team’s research activities and, eventually, draft the group’s final report.
The full report is lengthy (4MB) is lengthy but can be found here.
Shorter bullet point summaries can be found here.
Charles Ingrao gives a good talk on the study and its methodology here.(Audio)

It is perhaps the most objective history of the breakup of Yugoslavia to date produced.

With regard to the War in Croatia (and my last post), this passage from the summary is appropriate:
Belgrade played on these fears with a massive propaganda campaign that portrayed Croats as “genocidal killers” bent on a campaign of violence and genocide. At the same time, however, Serbs were motivated not only by an understandable fear, but by the desire to be part of a Greater Serbia, regardless of how they were treated by Zagreb.[Ed] Much as the quest for a Greater Serbia had helped drive Yugoslavia toward dissolution, it now played an equally important role in the war’s outbreak.
and from the summary on the break up of Yugoslavia:
But neither these national historical narratives nor the (perceived) injustices they recounted ‘caused’ Yugoslavia’s collapse. Rather, it contributed to the maintenance of inter-group boundaries, distrust, and resentment that would enable an ambitious politician to mobilize his own group against others. Indeed, it required human agency and a conscious strategy – and money -- to take a people who had been neighbors, in-laws, friends, and comrades and lead them into a fratricidal war. It was Slobodan Milosevic who exploited economic and other problems by leading a “national revitalization” movement within Serbia which sought political and territorial objectives incompatible with the interests of other republics and national groups. [Ed]
I'm not denying that the Croats and others contributed to the break up, but but the major dynamic which drove the war was a quest for Greater Serbia. Charles Ingrao pretty much states the same in his talk listed above (about a third of the way through). The Nationalist forces which arose in the different communities were a response to the Serbian Nationalist project.

The study also goes to show that claims of Muslim fundamentalism, especially in Bosnia, were non existent.  Trifkovic's claims that the Serbs were warring against the Jihad is bullshit. He is doing a Duranty. But it was meant for gullible Western Consumption--( the useful idiots of the right)-- and it continues to be pushed as a rehabilatory mechanism to counter negative public opinion earned by Serbian Nationalists during the War.

(That's not to say that Islam is compatible long term with the West. Personally, I don't think it is. Still killing innocent people is not the way to solve the problem. In the former Yugoslavia, the Muslims had adopted secularisation almost as enthusiastically as Christians do now in the West. It was the barbarities and brutalities meted out to them during the War (by Srdja's friends particularly) that radicalised them. BTW, Srdja's friends were quite happy to cut deals with the muslim invader whenever it suited their interests.)

Reality is a bitch.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Srdja Trifkovic and the Right.

For his actions and his writings, Vulliamy was named “Foreign Correspondent of the Year” in 1992 – an accolade he fully deserved. But that was two decades ago. After the end of the Bosnian war he moved to America, where he reported on such things as the drugs war along the Mexican border, and the aftermath of 9/11. One might imagine that, with so many new crises to think about, he would have “moved on” (as the cant phrase has it). But however far he has moved, Bosnia has stayed with him, for two reasons – one good, and one bad. 

The bad reason is the campaign of denial about the camps which still rumbles on to this day. A article called “The Picture that Fooled the World”, published by LM Magazine (“LM” was short for “Living Marxism”), accused the journalists of deliberate deception. One of the news organisations involved, ITN, sued for libel and won. Yet the lies put about by atrocity deniers – for example, that Mr Alic, the xylophone-ribbed man, was a TB sufferer who looked like that normally – still circulate on the internet, and Vulliamy is obliged to set the record straight again and again

Srdja Trifkovic gets a fair amount of time in the Conserve-o-sphere and has many supporters amongst people whom are otherwise quite clear thinking individuals. I suppose he gets the traction that he does because he is a good writer with monarchical tendencies and a strong anti-Islamist. I think therefore his writing resonates with the sympathies of many conservative and they tend to think of him as "one of us."

His bio, which can be found here at Wiki makes for interesting reading. He was a cheerleader for the Serbian Republic in Bosnia and their two founding fathers Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Two very, very nasty men. My beef with Trifkovic is not because he is pro-Serbian. As a conservative, I expect a man to love his country; my beef with him is the ideology he supports is evil, and his love of Serbia is of the same type as Hitler's love of Germany; to the exclusion of everyone else.

To understand the war in Yugoslavia, one doesn't need to delve into complex histories or study very many books. To understand the war in Yugoslavia all needs is to understand the ideology of Grossdeutshland Greater Serbia.

All the troubles in the last Century of that region ultimately hinge around issues of support or rebellion against the ideal of Greater Serbia. In fact, WW1, which was probably the most calamitous event in terms of the destruction of traditionalism in Europe, was started by an assassination which was meant to further this aim.  So much for shitty little backwater provinces not being important.

Now, as a Christian Conservative, the only conservatism that I'm interested in is the conservatism that supports God's law. Trifkovic's conservatism is not of this kind, so he kind of rubs me the wrong way. He is quite good on condemning the crimes perpetrated by others onto the Serbs but basically turns a blind eye when team Serbia is pursuing the dream. The issue then becomes more "complex".  To Trifkovic, Srebrencia (7000 Muslim men and boys executed by Mladic) is a political event blown way out of proportion. Never mind the video.

Srebrenica was the final straw which snapped the world passivity to Greater Serbian aggression. As the Serbs were surrounding Muslims in other pockets, domestic pressure, especially in the U.S., led to NATO airstrikes against Serbia to stop further repeat massacres. To Trifkovic, it was a naked expression of  U.S. imperialism.

Unlike in the 30's and 40's where there we no television crews to report on events. The day to day coverage of the war in Yugoslavia left Serbia with a tarnished reputation. A reputation which finally began to turn the corner with one pivotal event;

September 11.

Muslims which were only of trivial concern to the U.S. suddenly became the number one enemy and the apologists for greater Serbia were able to seize on this change in sentiment with gusto to rehabilitate it. Just like the Nazi's who claimed that their war against Russia was a war against Bolshevism instead of a pursuit of Lebensraum, the Serbs recast their territorial expansion as a war against Islam. Suddenly they're the West's friends. This is why Trifkovic, in my opinion, is beating the Muslim menace drum. He's not concerned about Europe as much as he is concerned about rehabilitating Serbia.  We're all on the same side now.

Trifkovic, from what I see, also uses several other journalistic devices to further his aims.

Firstly, with regard to the war in Yugoslavia he claims that the Serbs were unfair victims of public opprobrium during the war since all parties committed morally repugnant acts. And like all great lies there is an element of truth in them; yes all sides did commit atrocities. But anyone who looked at the facts squarely saw that the vast majority of the crimes were committed by the Serbs.  The Allies bombed Dresden, but only a moral idiot could equate the occasional sin of the Allies with the systematic evil of the Nazi's.

Secondly, he argues that the break up of Yugoslavia was not the Serb's fault since they did not want succession. Once again mixing a lie with a bit of truth. Neither did the Croats or the Slovenes want full independence initially, but the Serbian nationalism reasserted itself with the fall of Communism, and being the privileged parties in the former Yugoslavia they were quite keen to keep their exploitative positions. Britain too, did not want America to gain independence. The Americans were obviously bastards for wanting to leave such a "happy family".

Finally, in issues of moral clarity against his cause he needlessly introduces complexity into the issue whilst in issues favouring his, the moral clarity is obvious. So with regard to issues like Srebrenica, a few Muslim men who clearly committed atrocities are roundly and explicitly denounced, whilst Serbian crimes are obfuscated away.

Trifkovic's problem is his moral relativism, which is at the heart of the Western disease. His inability to clearly distinguish between right and wrong (especially with regard to matters Serbian) stains his conservative credentials.The conservative patriot will damn his own "in-house" murderers as harshly as those of others. When he starts excusing his then I damn his moral relativism, in him, and in any Croat\Greek\German\Englishman who thinks the same. He carry's within hm the Western Disease, the inability to see the difference between right and wrong. The fact that he speaks sensibly on some things is more a co-incidence between Western Conservatism, with its emphasis on the truth,  and Serbian monarchic nationalism with its primary good being Serbia. The real test of his conservative credentials is where he stands when the two differ. He has failed the test.

He wins the Walter Duranty award.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Liberalism: A Tale of Two Men.

Commentator Ingemar, in my previous post, quoted Auster whom he felt gave a better explanation of liberalism than I was offering:
An explanation of the origins of liberalism that I have frequently proposed is that liberalism begins with a denial of God or higher truth. This denial of truth removes all moral hierarchies above man and makes human will and desire the highest thing, with all human wills and desires now being considered (in the absence of any moral standards above man) as equal.
Now personally, I don't think Auster's solution probes deep enough into the mechanism of denial which I feel is the ultimate source of liberalism.

Take your average committed Socialist for instance. Most socialists that I know are motivated by a benevolent desire towards humanity in general and Auster's assertion that they do not follow a "higher" morality would seem to me to be false. Most of these socialists whilst denying God would still believe is some overriding ethical system though admittedly its not the traditional Christian one. People forget that Christianity does not have the monopoly on martyrdom. Men and women have died and martyred themselves for the cause of Communism and Nazism as well. As I said before, belief in God is no protection against liberalism if your God is a liberal.

I think the origin of liberalism can be best illustrated by comparing the lives of two young socialists; Malcolm Muggeridge and Walter Duranty. Both men were British educated and as young men started off as committed socialist Journalists. Both were drawn to the then exciting experiment that was Stalinist Russia and were sent by their respective Newspapers to report on the events.  Both got to witness first hand the Stalinist engineered Ukrainian Famine.

Faced with the horror of the Famine, Muggeridge recoiled at the inconsistency of his belief in the promise of Socialism with the reality of its terror. His wrote a book, Winter in Moscow, which fictionalised his experiences. Gerard Reed's review over at Amazon describes the effect on him better than I can:
Muggeridge rapidly discarded his illusions in the face of the monumental evils he witnessed. One of his characters finally concluded: "Every tendency in himself, in societies; the past and the future; all he had ever seen or thought or felt or believed, sorted itself out. It was a vision of Good and Evil. Heaven and Hell. Life and death. There were two alternatives; and he had to choose. He chose" (p. 226). He chose to deal honestly with reality rather than blind himself with ideological rhetoric, to tell the truth rather than toe the party line.
Walter Duranty, special correspondent for the New York Times, faced with the same reality took altogether different approach. He denied that it was happening, pilloried Muggeride and similar reporters, and wrote back glowing reports to the people in the U.S. He lied.

Both men were well educated and came from reasonably privileged backgrounds. It's not as if education or intelligence were an issue. The problem lies far deeper. The problem lay not in the intellect because of a deficiency of education, Duranty was fully aware of the Russian reality, the problem as Muggeridge recognised was in his choice of how he responded to the reality.  It is in recognising how we choose that we find the sustaining power of liberalism.

All human acts are directed toward some form off good. In Duranty's case, he thought lying on behalf of Stalin was "good". Duranty's "good" was evil. Not evil in the specific sense of supporting Stalin, but evil in the sense of lying. Duranty thought it was good to lie. I don't care why he did so, in fact it is irrelevant but what I do know is that he was deliberately trying falsely "inform" Americans.  He thought it was good to private the intellects of his readership and distort their sense of reality and was acting contra Caritas.(Charity)

He chose to bat for the dark side.

Our education is a product of circumstances and intellect, and the young man with the unfortunate luck of being born into a liberal household and educated in a liberal school will enter the world with liberal ideas in his head. It doesn't matter what these ideas are, but ideas which don't conform to the nature of reality are quickly dispelled by the experience of it.............. unless a man chooses not to see or learn: It's the deliberate mutilation of a perceptive faculty.

Charity acts to perfect things, evil acts to destroy; and whilst liberalism may be the product of faulty thinking, naive optimism or stupidity, it would be quickly dispelled by the experience of the truth of things. No, what sustains liberalism is a deliberate desire for non-correction, a refusal to yield in the face of the truth. Caritas, which would crush liberalism, is opposed by liberalism's sustaining power.



The will, possessed by Evil, sees the good in corruption and deprivation and acts appropriately. Liberalism is sustained by the power of Evil. Dramatic, but true.

Calls have been made for Walter Duranty's Pulitzer Prize to be revoked. It hasn't been.

His portrait still hangs in the offices of the New York Times.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Some Comments on Liberalism.

Over at The Orthosphere, Jim Kalb has put up a post on the etiology of Liberalism. Now, from what I can see, Kalb's contention is that liberalism arises from the interpretive weltanschauung (big picture view of life) which is the modern scientific method. 
The most recent revolution was the modern one, which involved, at the most fundamental conceptual level, the attempted rejection of formal and final cause in favor of exclusive reliance on material and efficient cause [Ed]. That revolution was closely related to the rise of modern natural science, modern capitalism, and the modern state, and involved a great increase in the social emphasis on control. (How such things come about is a complicated story that can be told various ways. Etiologies have their own etiologies.)
What Kalb is trying to say here is that philosophical system that rejects concepts of "ultimate purposes" and "natures" is at the heart of liberalism. Personally, I don't buy that, because hard-arsed scientism leads you to conservatism and the not the other way around.  Premature, weak and logically inconsistent science is justified by liberalism, but it is quite a mistake to confuse the scientific world view with liberalism.

In fact, if you look at liberalism in action, what you see is a rejection of the scientific method when it conflicts with its world view. The recent "Climategate" events are a case in point. Here "inconvenient truths" are pushed aside in the name of a greater good. There are other examples from unrelated fields as well. For example, scientific studies have long shown the religion makes people happier, yet atheist still bang about it as if it were a curse. Married couples have, on average, more frequent sex than single people, despite liberal propaganda. Scientific evidence also shows that people seem more happier with their own kind and so on. In fact, what you find, is the better the science, especially in the sociological fields, the more it confirms to the conservative vision.

Quite a few Nobel Laureates, and I'm talking about those who won hard physical science awards not the bullshit ones, saw no problem with belief in God and the scientific method. Richard Feynman, a freakishly brilliant scientist who was also an atheist, also saw no problem with science and the idea of God. But Feynman was a man who understood that any consistent scientific theory had to take into account all of the facts, not only the ones that we found convenient.  And what divides the liberal from the conservative is this fact that the liberal regards it as OK to lie for the greater good.

Now, by lying, I don't mean that liberals always consciously lie; it's just that they ignore, overlook, suppress, explain away facts which they find inconvenient. Individual conservatives, do this as well, but nowhere is this habit so culturally entrenched, supported and justified as it is in the liberal movement.

In this regard, I agree with commentator Thursday, who gave a good rebuttal to Kalb.
The context of all this is my fairly longstanding disagreement with Jim Kalb on whether liberalism comes out of changes to human psychology that come about under conditions of safety, prosperity, and comfort or whether it comes out of what JK has outlined here as concepts. (There is a fairly substantial experimental literature that shows that inducing anxiety and fear make people both more conservative and more religious.)...........JK doesn’t really have an etiology of liberalism. As I have pointed out to him before, it doesn’t seem to tell us where those ideas that lead to liberalism come from, nor why they seem to stick in people’s minds.
Still, I have some critiques of Thursday's thoughts as well. Thursday too, doesn't provide an explanation of the origins of Liberalism. Rather, he places a strong emphasis on biological factors which predispose a person to liberalism. He cites Jonathan Haidt, and his research on moral foundations, which would seem to imply a cognitive biological difference between liberals and conservatives. i.e. In that certain individuals seem "wired" in such a way to give them their liberal tendency. Haidt's research is pretty good and I also agree that externalities such as threat, anger, plenty and security influence our thinking. The saying, "that there are no atheists in foxholes" is the common wisdom which modern psychology has only recently rediscovered.

Now, people can be roughly divided into the two types; the people whose actions are motivated by their animal instincts (the sheep, proles, common man) and the those who live according to the life of the mind( the shepherds, intellectuals, aristocrats). This biological explanation has the most influence mongst the sheep. In communities where there is both democracy and religious freedom, people will vote along biological instinctive lines, with the rationalisation hamster directing the vote to the appropriate party. Those who feel comfortable with liberal "anarchy" will vote left, whilst those who need "security and structure" will vote right. In times of low threat people are more open to "tolerant" government whilst in times of stress people drift towards more "authoritarian" regimes. The more
"inclusive the democracy" the stronger the "biological vote". (This explains the drift to both Communists and Fascists during the 1932 German elections in Protestant Germany and the current drift in Greece towards extreme political parties.)

But what fear and its opposite, comfort, seem to introduce is not liberalism but bias. Comfort/Security biases the mind towards liberalism while danger pushes towards the opposite direction.  The Nazi's, especially in their early years, were fat and happy but no one would describe their treatment of the Jews as Liberal. What motivated Nazi actions was ideology, not circumstance or disposition.  It was the Nazi ideas about Germany's troubles and potential solutions that produced the historical entity that was the Third Reich. Most normal Germans, in normal times, would have have dismissed their ideology as out of hand, but given the circumstances in Germany in the late 1920's and early 30's, it no surprise the the populace had become receptive to their message, since both the Nazi and Communist ideology appealed to the instincts of the herd.

Indeed, this is where liberalism draws its strength from; by providing an ideology that appeals to the instincts of the herd, Liberalism becomes the justifying ideology of the proletariat. Liberalism draws its strength from "instinctive synergy".

No, for the origins of liberalism you need to look amongst that other class of men, the "shepherds" or the "intellectuals". In this group of men, instinct is subordinated to the intellect and thereby the mind, or ideas, have more sway. In this level of society, man is more intellectual and less biological.

It's my opinion that liberalism started as a corrupted form of Christianity (and its Western atheist derivatives) which places emphasis on the "nice" and "agreeable" over the Good. Liberalism is an easy variant form of Christianity, and contrary to Jim Kalb, belief in God is no protection against liberalism if the God you believe in is liberal. It's an ideology of believing in God on My terms. It's the modern shepard who have taken this view and fed the proles of message of "instinctive synergy".

Liberalism originates from an intellectual rejection of God as he in preference to a God as he should be. Jesus, in a liberal mindset, becomes a person like myself. In its mildest forms, liberalism may manifest itself as an incomprehension of those of hold that fornication is wrong even if there is an element of deep love between two unmarried people, at its most extreme it manifests as militant atheism.

The problem with liberalism though is that its vision conflicts with reality and what happens in the end is that the liberal has to deny reality in order to live as he sees fit. Science, that ultimate asserter of empirical reality, is denied, and in doing so, the liberals join those unwitting conservatives, who in undercutting science are digging their own grave.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Spiritual Battleground

It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn
 A big thanks to David Foster for bringing back to my attention Sebastian Haffner's book, Defying Hitler. David Foster gives a good review of the book here. Re-reading it a second time has given me a greater appreciation of it, most importantly for Haffner's understanding of the psychology of evil.

Haffner's book is interesting because it was written before the Second World War, before Germany had committed the bulk of its atrocities, and is remarkably prescient in understanding what Germany would become with the adoption of Nazism. His concern, however, was only obliquely with fate of his nation, rather, he tried to understand why Nazism was able to rise up in a country where the majority of its inhabitants found the ideology intolerable. Remember, only 36% of Germans actually voted for Hitler directly, the rest simply went along. In that regard, the book really shouldn't be called Defying Hitler, a more appropriate title would be Getting in Step or Toeing the Line.

Haffner recognises that the problem lay in the personal failure of Germans throughout the whole of social structure, especially in the upper echelons in society.

He illustrates this with the fate of the Kammergericht, the Prussian Supreme Court;
[Ed: After the Nazi's physically took over]It was strange to sit in the Kammergericht again, the same courtroom, the same seats, acting as if nothing had happened. The same ushers stood at the doors and ensured, as ever, that the dignity of the court was not disturbed. Even the judges were for the most part the same people. Of course, the Jewish judge was no longer there. He had not even been dismissed. He was an old gentleman and had served under the Kaiser, so he had been moved to an administrative position in some Amtsgerichtsrat (lower court). His position on the senate was taken by an open-faced, blond young Amtsgerichtsrat, with glowing cheeks, who did not seem to belong among the grave Kamniergerichtsrats. A Kammergerichtsrat is a general, an Amtsgerichtsrat a lieutenant colonel. It was whispered that in private the newcomer was something high up in the SS. He saluted with outstretched arm and a resounding "Heil Hitler!" The president of the senate and the other old gentlemen thereupon made a vague gestures with their right arms and murmured something inaudible. Previously they had chatted quietly and knowledgeably during the breakfast break in the deliberating room, discussing the events of the day, or professional gossip, the way old gentlemen do. That no longer happened. There was a deep, embarrassed silence while they ate their sandwiches.
The deliberations themselves were also often strange. The new member of the senate produced unheard-of points of law in a fresh, confident voice. We Referendars, who had just passed our exams, exchanged looks while he expounded. At last the president of the senate remarked with perfect politeness, "Colleague, could it be that you have overlooked paragraph 816 of the Civil Code?" At which the new high court judge looked embarrassed, like a candidate who has just slipped up in a viva, leafed through his copy of the Code, and then admitted lightly, "Oh yes. yes. Well, then it's just the other way around." Those were the triumphs of the older law.
There were, however, other cases--cases in which the newcomer did not back down but gave eloquent speeches, in a somewhat overloud voice, stating that here the paragraphs of the law must yield precedence; he would then instruct his co-judges that the meaning was mere important than the letter of the law. He would quote Hitler. Then, with the gesture of a romantic stage hero, he would insist on some untenable decision. It was piteous to observe the faces of the old Kanimergerichtsrats as this went on. They looked at their notes with an expression of indescribable dejection, while their fingers nervously twisted paper clip or a piece of blotting paper. They were used to failing candidates for the Assessor examination for spouting the kind of nonsense that was now being presented as the pinnacle of wisdom; but now this nonsense was backed by the full power of the state, by the threat of dismissal for lack of national reliability, loss of livelihood, the concentration camp . . . They coughed; they said, "Of course we agree with your opinion, but you will understand . . ." They begged for a little understanding for the Civil Code and tried to save what could be saved.
That was the Kammergericht in Berlin in April 1933. It was the same Kammergericht whose judges had stood up to Frederick the Great 150 years earlier and, faced with a cabinet decree, had preferred jail to changing a judgment they considered correct in the king's favor. [Ed]In Prussia every schoolchild knows the story of the miller of Potsdam, which, whether it is true or not, gives an indication of the court's reputation. The king wanted a windmill removed because it disturbed the view from his new palace of Sans Souci He offered to buy the mill. The miller refused, he wanted to keep his mill. The king threatened to dispossess the miller, whereupon the miller said, "Just so, Your Majesty, but there's still the Kammergericht in Berlin." To this day the mill can be seen next to the palace.
In 1933 the Kamrnergericht toed the line. No Frederick the Great was needed, not even Hitler himself had to intervene. All that was required was a few Amtsgerichtsrats [Ed: Nazi court appointees]with a deficient knowledge of the law.
Haffner here recognises that the Nazi's ascent was preceded by a change in Germany's "best and brightest." Whereas in the time of Frederick the Great the Judges of the Kammergericht were quite prepared to disobey the King, even with the real risk of imprisonment, death and torture, modern Germans were not prepared to go as far in upholding the good. Haffner describes the corruption of own father, a man who was educated in the best traditions of European civilisation. 
As I said, my father himself had retired long ago. He had no official powers anymore and could have done nothing to harm the Nazis, even if he had wanted to. It seemed as though he was out of the line of fire. But one day he, tool received an official letter. It contained a detailed questionnaire. "Under Clause X of the Law for the Re-establishment of the Civil Service, you are required to answer the following questions truthfully and in full . . . Under Clause Y, refusal to answer will entail loss of pension . . ."

There were a lot of questions. My father had to state which political parties, organizations, and associations he had ever belonged to in his life, he had to list his services to the nation, explain this and excuse that, and finally to sign a printed declaration that he "stood behind the government of national uprising without reservations In short, having served the state for forty-five years, he was required to humble himself again in order to continue to receive his well-earned pension.

My father stared silently at the questionnaire for a long time.

Next day I saw him seated at his desk, the form in front of him. He was staring past it.

"Are you going to fill it in?" I asked.

My father looked at the questionnaire, grimaced, and said nothing for a time. Then he asked, "Do you think I should?"


"I wonder what you and your mother would live on?" he said at last.

"I really don't know," he repeated after a while. "I don't even know," and he tried to smile, "how you will be able to go to Paris to write your thesis.

There was an uneasy silence. Then my father pushed the questionnaire aside, but he did not put it away.

It lay on his desk for several days. Then one afternoon as I entered the room I saw my father filling it in, slowly and laboriously, like a child writing a school essay. Half an hour later he out himself and took it to the mailbox before he could change his mind. He showed no outward change in his manner and spoke no more excitedly than usual, but it had nonetheless been too much for him. With people who are used to restraint in word and gesture, some part of the body is invariably affected by severe mental stress. Some have heart attacks in such cases. My father's weakness was his stomach. He had hardly sat down at his desk again when he jumped up and began to vomit convulsively. For two or three days he was unable to eat or keep down any food. It was the beginning of a hunger strike by his body which killed him cruelly and painfully two years later.
He sold his soul for a pension.

But it would be a mistake to think that this moral failure was German. The point about Haffner's work is that he illustrates that the failure was human, in that, in similar circumstances we could all see ourselves doing the same thing. And yet we mustn't. It's because it's the little "appeasements" and "compromises" that open the door to Hell.
We were pursued into the farthest corners of our private lives; in all areas of life there was rout, panic, and flight. No one could tell where it would end. At the same time we were called upon, not to surrender, but to renege. just a little pact with the devil-and you were no longer one of the captured quarry. Instead you were one of the victorious hunters.

That was the simplest and crudest temptation. Many succumbed to it. Later they often found that the price to be paid was higher than they had thought and that they were no match for the real Nazis. There are many thousands of them today in Germany, Nazis with a bad conscience. People who wear their Nazi badges like Macbeth wore his royal robes, who, in for a penny, in for a pound, now find their consciences shouldering one burden after another, who search in vain for a way out, drink and take sleeping pills, no longer dare to think, and do not know whether they should rather pray for the end of the Nazi era-their own era!-or dread it. When that end comes they will certainly not admit to having been the culprits. In the meantime, however, they are the nightmare of the world. It is impossible to assess what these people might still be capable of in their moral and psychological derangement. Their history has yet to be written.
[Ed: This was written in 1938, we all know how it ended and what these people were capable of doing in the end]

Our predicament in 1933 held many other temptations apart from this, the crudest; each was a source of madness and mental sickness for those who yielded. The devil has many nets, crude ones for crude souls, finer ones for finer souls.
Some men are seduced by power and yet others by the pension, either way, the seduction is ultimately poisonous. The important point is to resist. Haffner also recognised the societal importance of this failure to resist.
If you read ordinary history books…you get the impression that no more than a few dozen people have are involved…According to this view, the history of the present decade is a kind of chess game between Hitler, Mussolini, Chiang Kai-Shek, Roosevelt, Chamberlain, Daladier, and a number of other men whose names are on everybody’s lips. We anonymous others seem at best to be the objects of history, pawns in the chess game…It may seem a paradox, but it is none the less a simple truth, to say that on the contrary, the decisive historical events take place among us, the anonymous masses. The most powerful dictators, ministers, and generals are powerless against the simultaneous mass decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large…Decisions that influence the course of history arise out of the individual experiences of thousands or millions of individuals. [ED]
Conservative thinkers often put forward restitutive proposals for Western Civilisation based upon legislative changes. But as Haffner has shown us, no matter how illustrious or well designed the institutions, unless the men that give life to institution are good, the institution will fail. It's not a question about rationality. Haffner's father, like the judges of the Kammergericht, were some of the best educated men ever, educating them more would not have changed their course of action because what they lacked was not education but courage, or more specifically, fortitude*; a moral virtue.

That's why nothing gets fixed until morals begin to change. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God........

You know the rest.

*Fortitude is different from courage. Courage aims to overcome fear, but fortitude pushes through all obstacles such as sloth, indifference, boredom, despair and fear. It's a virtue which flows from the possession of caritas(charity). Both the Nazi's and Communists had courage in abundance, but they lacked the virtue of fortitude.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Victims of Communism Day.

There seems to be a movement about which is trying to make May 1st  a commemorative day for victims of Communism. It has my support.  The European Union has marked August 23 (The date of the Ribbentrop-Motolov Pact) as Black Ribbon Day, a day when the victims of totalitarianism are remembered.  Personally,  I think this is an attempt to disguise the evil of communism by hiding it in remembrance of fascist atrocity. Communism, is such a vile malignancy that it deserves a day of it's own; the first of May is quite appropriate.

Today, I want to remember one of those victims.

Witold Pilecki, in many ways, embodies the story of Poland in the 20th Century. Caught between the malignancies of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, his life, like his country, seemed doomed from the outset. Yet Poland, like Pilecki, stands as a testament that the will to life and nobility exists even when all hope is gone.

His Wiki entry can be found here.

It's fascinating to note, that until Pilecki chose to " voluntarily insert" himself into Auschwitz(he also had a wife and two kids), no one actually knew what was going on there. Pilecki's reports back to the Polish Underground were initially met with disbelief.  Seeing the desperateness of the situation, Pilecki actually wanted to organise a rebellion in the camp to liberate the prisoners, but realised that it would be doomed without outside support. The intelligence he obtained was passed to the Polish High Command in exile, who in turn passed it to the Americans and the British, and pressed them to help. They weren't interested.

Pilecki escaped from Auschwitz and then joined up again with the Polish Underground to fight the Germans and then, after they had been beaten, against the Communists. He was eventually caught by the Polish Communists, tried on false charges, brutally tortured and executed. Ironically, his torturers and executioner were communist Jews. Life is stranger than fiction.

He, like many fellow Poles, were cursed soldiers. Men who fought valiantly against the Germans only to die at the hands of the Communists. Unlike the Danes, who yeilded to the Germans after 16 dead, the Poles fought like lions, suffering terrible persecutions, millions dead and hopeless odds.

These truly were the "Best and Brightest."

A photo gallery of his life can be found here.

Men like this should never be forgotten.

Say a prayer for him in honour of his memory, go to Church if you can,..........  then live the example.